New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick takes questions from reporters before an NFL football practice, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and head coach Bill Belichick, right, speak during an NFL football practice, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Cleveland Browns' Christian Kirksey (58) celebrates with Myles Garrett (95) after Garrett sacked New York Jets' quarterback Luke Falk (8) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase watches his team play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) When the New York Jets called New England earlier this month to inquire about trading for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, it was a long shot considering Bill Belichick hadn't once traded during his Patriots coaching tenure with the team he infamously resigned from after one day as head coach in 2000.
But Jets coach Adam Gase recalls New York general manager Joe Douglas being optimistic about the prospect in the aftermath of New England signing four-time All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown.
Thomas, who played under Gase when he was offensive coordinator in Denver in 2013 and `14, was a perfect fit for an offense the first-year Jets coach felt needed a boost after a season-opening loss to Buffalo.
''We were trying to figure out, `How could we go about this?''' Gase recalled. ''I think to Joe's credit, he was like, `I'm just going to call him and the worst they could say is no.' And when they said, `Let's talk,' then those guys worked it out.''
Belichick acknowledged that the stars aligned perfectly to make a rare deal between the AFC East foes possible.
''I would say, a certain period of time when there's no way this transaction would've happened,'' Belichick said. ''They're not the easiest trades to make, but, you know, if the trade is good for both teams and ultimately what we're trying to do is improve our team.''
It may be the only bit of kindness Belichick shows New York (0-2) when it arrives at Gillette Stadium for Sunday's matchup.
The Patriots (2-0) ran through Pittsburgh and Miami in their first two games, outscoring them 76-3 in a pair of routs .
Now they face a Jets team against which they have won six straight games and eight consecutive regular-season games in New England. The Jets beat the Patriots in Foxborough in the playoffs in the 2010 season, but haven't won a regular-season game there since 2008.
The Jets opened as an 18-point underdog. The line quickly grew to 23 by early in the week.
Asked this week if he's ever gone into a game with his opponent favored by that much, Gase smiled.
''Oh, I'm sure,'' Gase said. ''I was in Detroit five years.''
Some things to know as the two AFC East rivals square off in the first of two meetings this season:
Luke Falk will make his first NFL start after making his debut last Monday night against Cleveland.
The 24-year-old quarterback was on the practice squad a week ago, but was promoted to the active roster a few hours before the game. That was because Sam Darnold is recovering from mononucleosis . Trevor Siemian started against the Browns, but is now out for the season after injuring ankle ligaments. Falk went 20 of 25 for 198 yards after replacing Siemian.
Gase chose to stick with Falk as the starter - until Darnold returns in a few weeks. Falk was with Gase last season in Miami.
''He's very confident in his abilities,'' Gase said of Falk. ''He's confident in his intelligence, and he's able to take things from the classroom with no reps and go out and execute. Obviously, being in the system for two years now, he has a really good grasp of it.''
The Patriots are the only team in the NFL yet to give up a TD and are just the fourth team in the Super Bowl era to allow three points or fewer through their first two games. The previous one was 1981 Buffalo Bills.
ON THE CORNER
Trumaine Johnson entered the season as the Jets' No. 1 cornerback. He opened the team's second game on the sideline - and stayed there most of the game.
Johnson, who signed a five-year, $72.5 million deal last year, was replaced in the lineup by Nate Hairston. And, it appears that could be the case against the Patriots.
''It just hasn't worked out as well as we need it to,'' Gase said of Johnson's benching. ''The good thing is we've got a long ways to go.''
Johnson didn't play until late in the fourth quarter when Hairston dealt with cramps. Johnson acknowledged after the game against the Browns and again during the week that he was ''upset'' by the team's decision. He insisted, though, he just wants to do what's best for the team to help them win.
''When my number's called,'' Johnson said, ''I'll be ready to play.''
New England's offensive line took another hit this week when starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn was placed on injured reserve .
Wynn hurt a foot during the Patriots' 43-0 win at Miami. This is the second straight season Wynn has been placed on IR. A preseason Achilles tendon injury caused him to miss his entire rookie season in 2018.
It comes after starting center David Andrews went on IR before the season opener with blood clots in his lungs. Starting right tackle Marcus Cannon also sat out last week after injuring his shoulder in the win over Pittsburgh.
Marshall Newhouse, who was signed last week, started in Cannon's place against Miami. He is likely to get nod this week if Cannon remains out.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard hasn't done much in 2019, with that trend expected to continue in Week 7. The veteran has rushed for just 49 yards off of 23 attempts while racking up a subpar 108 receiving yards on 14 receptions so far this season. Joe Mixon continues to retain a firm grasp as the No. 1 option out of the backfield, so Bernard likely won't produce in all aspects until that changes, even with the team down A.J. Green (ankle) and John Ross (shoulder). For those fantasy managers who have Bernard on their roster for some reason, keep him benched against the Jaguars on Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate will remain as the team's No. 2 option for Sunday's matchup against Jacksonville. With A.J. Green (ankle) still not ready to return, Tate will continue to receive a favorable amount of looks from quarterback Andy Dalton in Week 7. The 22-year-old was targeted 11 times against the Ravens in Week 6, and despite Dalton playing behind a horrendous offensive line, expect Boyd to produce something against a Jaguars Defense that no longer has Jalen Ramsey. The upside is there, especially in deeper formats.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert has had a disappointing 2019. With just 15 receptions for 108 yards and a score, many were expecting the veteran to regain some traction this season after injuries plagued the team on the offensive end. However, Eifert remains a bust despite remaining healthy this season after spending a massive amount of time on injured reserve throughout the years. The upside is there against the Jaguars, but fantasy owners shouldn't expect much on Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd will remain the No. 1 option on Sunday against the Jaguars. With A.J. Green (ankle) still not ready to return, Boyd should continue to get his looks from quarterback Andy Dalton. The 24-year-old has played relatively well, considering that the team has arguably the worst offensive line in football, and without Jalen Ramsey in the mix for Jacksonville after he was traded, the door is open for some solid production from Boyd. The upside is there for those plagued with injuries or looking to get through a bye.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon will look to get on track in Week 7 against the Jaguars. The 23-year-old has been a colossal disappointment this season, rushing for only 252 yards on 74 attempts in addition to 97 yards off of 14 catches, with his only touchdown of the season coming through the air during the Week 3 matchup against Buffalo. With a weak offensive line along with limited options on the receiving end, opposing defenses continue to keep Mixon in check. Don't expect anything different on Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will have his hands full against Jacksonville. After throwing for 262 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinals in Week 5, Dalton took a few steps back against Baltimore by logging a subpar 53.8 completion percentage to go along with an interception. With the Jaguars Defense getting to the quarterback often this season, expect Dalton to feel the pressure on Sunday behind arguably the worst offensive line in the league. Keep the veteran benched on Sunday.
The New York Jets Defense is getting star middle linebacker C.J. Mosley back for a tough Monday night matchup vs the Patriots. Mosley was a monster in the one game he played this season forcing two turnovers and scoring a touchdown in a Week 1 loss to Buffalo. The Jets defense hasn't looked the same without him so adding Mosley to a defense that already has safety Jamal Adams gives the Jets defense sleeper appeal in the second half against a soft schedule. Despite the good news, the Jets defense shouldn't be started this week against Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.
New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has a rough matchup Monday against a Patriots Defense that allows the fewest fantasy points against to opposing wide receivers. Thomas got five targets last week, so he's been getting more involved in the offense, but is still not seeing the type of target share to warrant consideration in standard-size fantasy leagues. Thomas got five targets last week but is the clear third option behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder and won't carry much fantasy appeal as long as those other two are healthy.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder will face a tough test Monday when the Patriots No. 1 ranked pass defense comes to town. New England allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and shut down Crowder in Week 3 when they held him to only 25 yards on two catches. Third-string quarterback Luke Falk started that game, so Crowder should have more success with Sam Darnold back under center. In two games with Darnold, Crowder has 20 catches for 197 yards, so he has major fantasy upside moving forward, especially as the Jets' schedule gets softer. In Week 7, however, Crowder is only a borderline WR3 who has more appeal in PPR formats.
New York Jets Le'Veon Bell will face a tough matchup Monday night when the Patriots elite defense heads to MetLife Stadium. New England allows the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs so it's a tough matchup for Bell, but he should put up RB2 numbers based on volume. Bell has played 92.2 percent of the team's offensive snaps so far and has the second-most targets on the team. Bell should see his usual 20-25 touches and fantasy owners should start him with confidence he can put up a decent day even if he doesn't score a touchdown.
Free-agent RB Samaje Perine (Bengals) passed through waivers and was re-signed by the Cincinnati Bengals and assigned to their practice squad Friday, Oct. 18.
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson will look to change his fortunes against the Patriots in a tough matchup Monday. In seven career games against New England, Anderson hasn't scored a touchdown and his 39.5 percent catch rate is by far his lowest mark against any team he's faced more than once. This season, the Patriots are as daunting a matchup as there is in the NFL allowing the fewest fantasy points against to wide receivers. There is always the chance Anderson grabs a long touchdown, like the 92-yard score he had last week, so he has some appeal as a flex in deeper leagues. However, where possible, owners should look to steer clear of Anderson in this matchup.
Washington Redskins WR Wendell Smallwood has the ability to handle RB Chris Thompson's (toe) duties on passing downs against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7, according to offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell.
Fantasy Spin: With Thompson sidelined, Smallwood could be headed for the handful of catches and 50-plus total yards typically reserved for Thompson, but he's still just a DFS lottery ticket for fantasy purposes.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold will face a tough challenge Monday night against the Patriots, the team that has given up the fewest fantasy points this season to opposing quarterbacks. Darnold, who missed three games with mono, had a strong showing in his return to the field Sunday when he put up 338 yards and two touchdowns. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect that type of performance Monday against arguably the best defense in the NFL, especially with two starters on the offensive line unlikely to play. Darnold is best left on the bench this week, however, the Jets schedule gets very soft after the game vs New England so Darnold is a good bench stash for those matchups.
New Orleans Saints RB Dwayne Washington will be 'invited into the offensive mix' against the Chicago Bears in Week 7 with RB Alvin Kamara (ankle) ruled out, according to Larry Holder of The Athletic.
Fantasy Spin: While Washington will likely see some touches, Latavius Murray is the back to target if you are looking for a replacement for Kamara. However, a matchup with a tough Chicago defense limits Murray to flex consideration.
Oakland Raiders WR Trevor Davis is expected to see an expanded role in the passing attack against the Green Bay Packers in Week 7 because of the injury to WR Tyrell Williams (foot), according to Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Fantasy Spin: Davis caught four passes for 42 yards against Chicago in Week 5 in his second game with Oakland after being acquired from Green Bay. He could be worth a flier in DFS contests when faces off against his former team.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant (hamstring) and cornerback Xavien Howard (knee) were limited in practice this week and are questionable for Week 7 against the Bills. Even if Grant plays this weekend, he's nowhere close to being fantasy relevant behind Devante Parker, Preston Williams and Albert Wilson on the depth chart. Grant has only nine catches (19 targets) for 52 scoreless yards in four games this year. Howard is the team's best cornerback, but the Dolphins Defense/special teams is also well off the fantasy radar. If Howard sits, it'll be good news for Bills wideout John Brown.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie tight end Josh Oliver (hamstring) practiced in full the last two days and isn't on the Week 7 injury report against the Bengals. Oliver has yet to play in his rookie season, but this weekend would be good timing for him to make his debut with Geoff Swaim out and James O'Shaughnessy on Injured Reserve. There's no guarantee that Oliver is heavily involved in the offense in his first game, but he's one to watch for those that are desperate at the position.
Jacksonville Jaguars QB Nick Foles (collarbone) is expected to return to practice next week. He is currently on the Reserve/Injured list.
Fantasy Spin: Foles probably is a few weeks away from returning to the lineup, so Gardner Minshew will continue to be the starting quarterback for now. Minshew should have a favorable matchup this week and can be a low-end No. 1 quarterback in deeper leagues.